Issue: Volume: 24 Issue: 3 (March 2001)

Autodesk Inventor Chases AutoCAD Users

Inventor's ease-of-use improvements include a more intuitive workflow that allows users to capture design intent at earlier, conceptual stages, and sketching enhancements such as automatic dimensioning and a new tool called the Sketch Doctor that helps users with drawing recovery, especially when importing legacy data from other applications.

At Alpha Marathon Technologies, a plastics processing machine manufacturer in Woodridge, Ontario, Inventor 4 was the application that brought the former 2D shop solidly into a 3D environment. "For the past two or three years, we tried different 3D platforms," all of which proved, "big fiascoes," says president Alfredo Bentivoglio. But with Inventor 4, he says, his designers were up and running in three to four weeks. He cites the overall ease of use and integration with previous processes as the main reasons for success.

Inventor 4 also features some large assembly improvements, among them multilevel adaptive solving, which will provide users with access to part-level constraints deep inside an assembly structure, allowing for better visualization of complex mechanical structures. According to the company, assembly file sizes are now 60 to 80 percent smaller than in Inventor 3, which should substantially increase performance.

Surface design and improved sheet-metal capabilities round out the major enhancements to this mechanical design program. Surfaces will help designers create more complex shapes and achieve a tighter integration between surfaces and solids. New sheet-metal features include punched shapes across bends, flanges with setback, and ripped corners.

Autodesk Inventor 4 runs on Microsoft Windows 98/NT/2000 machines with a 450mhz processor (the minimum recommended), an OpenGL video card, and 360mb of disk space. A minimum of 256mb of RAM is required; 512mb is recommended for large assemblies. Pricing varies according to configuration and number of seats. (Autodesk; -JD